Back to Basics. Phonological Awareness

April 13, 2016

A few days ago, I wrote a post in which I reported on the topics we had studied that day. It was rather a boring post, but necessary for me as the easiest way to get back to writing. Unfortunately, I forgot to save it or to publish it.  So the post vanished.  I will try to recreate it now having the same purpose in mind:  state where we are now and go back to writing from that point on. 

When Robert was 4 or 5 years old, he used computer program Sound It Out Loud. That was his first and… the last contact with phonology. Later we used Edmark reading program.  Robert was able to recognize and read the whole words. Except, his pronunciation was faulty.  The level of his distortions, however, was not discovered until Robert’s instructors (including myself) stopped looking at the words Robert was reading.  When they saw the words, Robert’s approximations of the sounds seemed sufficient.  When they didn’t see the words, they couldn’t understand what he read.

It got even worse, when later on, Robert was learning to spell the words.  Spelling requires naming the letters.  The names sounded differently than the sounds they were supposed to produce. I had the feeling that Robert’s clarity of speech not only didn’t get better, but to the contrary, his verbal utterances became more muffled. The words were distorted while sounds were omitted completely or squeezed together into undecipherable murmur.

And of course, Robert kept making errors which I – person without proper experience –  didn’t even notice.  I was glad that my “discovery” of how to help Robert pronounce two, three, or more syllable words by synchronizing each of the syllable with an appropriate movement of the arms – making a swing for two-syllable, triangle for three syllables, square for four –  slowed Robert’s verbal expressions and made the  articulation  clearer.  I didn’t notice, however,  that Robert kept omitting the last consonant in each of the syllables.

As I wrote in one of my previous posts we had to return to CVC words to address those ending sounds.  Robert had to read a word (or name the picture), I didn’t see and I had to repeat it.  That worked on approximately half of the words.  Moreover, Robert all too often would not give me a proper clue by, for instance, saying the first sound.  What he could do was to spell the word. Somehow I knew that this was not a good approach.

Just last week, I realized how confusing my efforts to teach Robert proper articulation have been when I talked to Claudia.  Claudia, speech pathologist by trade and a generous volunteer by inborn spirit, knew Robert well.  She brought up the subject of phonological awareness and suddenly everything became much clearer.  So we went back to sounding them loud – two letter words, three-letter words, and those words  Robert stumbled upon during other activities.



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